Tom Asacker


The Business of Belief: How to Make a Lasting Impression

Key Takeaways

On finding your purpose:

When people get stuck in their work, in their careers, it’s usually because they’re not active. They’re not participating in the marketplace with people trying to figure out what’s next, trying to help them move forward. They’re usually doing a lot of introspection. They’re trying to discover what their true purpose is in life.

Actually, the purpose is to be found out there in the community, out there with your audiences. That’s where things are happening. That’s where you can make a difference with the skills, the experience, that you bring to your work. Purpose isn’t something that you discover. You uncover it by going out there into the world and trying to work with people and solve problems and improve lives.

On influencing the audience:

As a speaker, imagine that your audience is on one side of this bridge already. That side of their bridge is a place of comfort. They know all about it. They’ve experienced it. They know what to expect.

You want them to go to the other side of the suspension bridge, some place in the future where they’re going to change a behavior, a feeling, their thinking. In order for someone to leave this place of comfort and go somewhere else, go across that bridge, like you said, they have to have a reason and evidence.

Now, here’s where people get confused. They think that reason is the evidence. In other words, if I give someone evidence that the bridge is safe and that what’s on the other side is a wonderful thing, then all of a sudden you want to cross it. In fact, the reason for someone to move across the bridge is their desire, what that picture on the other side means to them, whether or not it’s a motivating thing to move them across.

On preparing for a presentation:

Well, the first thing I do is I try to get a really good understanding of the organization. What are they thinking? What are they feeling? I read everything that I can find online. Where are they moving? What are their aspirations because their aspirations are what their desires are. I try to at least color my philosophy with their aspirations.

Usually, because what I teach is how to connect with audiences and how to make a difference in people’s lives, it’s easy for me to find that common ground in what I do.

On being bold:

When you get in front of people if you believe in your heart that what you’re doing can help people, you should be fearless. How can anybody stop you from telling your story if you have a belief that you’re improving people’s lives? It shouldn’t.

Authentic passion vs. rote passion

Tell more stories. The thing is you can tell the difference between somebody that’s an actor telling a story and someone that lived what they’re talking about and is just exuding that. They’re just conveying an experience. That’s really the difference when I see speakers anyway. I believe the ones that I can just sense that it’s pouring out of them, that what they’re talking about is who they are, not something that they’ve rehearsed, cleverly rehearsed. There’s a difference.

On preparation:

I think one of the most important things is be careful of all the advice that’s floating around out there. You hear advice like don’t use more than 10 slides. Don’t put too many words on the slide, but if you’ve ever seen Tom Peters speak, he has 500 slides and some of them are so dense with words and it doesn’t matter. He takes you on an emotional trip. That’s the whole key is to try to understand that journey from when people first see you walk out on that stage until you end.

What does that journey feel like? Are you telling your message in all kinds of different ways, not just one way, but in stories, in images, in quotes? One of the tricks I use is that you know how memory is really contextual? One of the things I do is I’ll use slides as the contextual hint that says that turns my mind on.

When I see the slide, then all the words that go with the slide just come to my mind immediately. They’re like almost note cards without the notes. When you practice to the slides, to the images, then it just comes to you. That image comes up. You say, “Yeah, I know exactly what I’m supposed to say next.” One of the tricks that – nobody ever told me this.

One of the tricks that’s a difficult one to grasp, but once you get it you go, “Oh geez, okay. That makes perfect sense.” Remember that no one out there in the audience has a clue what you’re going to say. Prepare the best you can. Remember that you’re trying to move one individual, so you’re not talking to thousands. You’re talking to someone out there who’s on the edge that you might help move over that edge into some exciting new future and make a difference in their life and then just go out there and connect in a real, passionate way and don’t worry about fumbling up or anything like that because all that does is make you look real. That’s all.

What does it mean to speak like a pro?

Just moving people, to understand that you’re not there to try to change someone’s understanding. You’re there to try to light a fire in people so that they’ll go out and discover more for themselves. That’s the thing that we forget. Listen, I started out that way because I never planned on speaking for a living.

That first speech I think I ever gave was that doctor saying, “What are you doing here with this shoddy information?” I used to believe that it was to impart information in a lawyerly way that could be defended. That’s not it at all. It’s to convey your passion for what you think the world should be like and try to take people on this ride with you and then when they get off they want to get back on it again. They go out and they start discovering how to get back into this.

Top Tips:

Be sensitive to what appeals to them. Just really keep their radar up and when they see something, when they feel something, don’t just take it in. Analyze it. Say to yourself, “What is it about what he just said that made me smile and made me feel closer to that person? How was it said?”

That’s where you’ll understand the difference between the feeling mind, the one that leads us and the thinking, the skeptical, thinking mind, the one that’s always evaluating everybody. You’ve got to balance both of those when you speak in front of people, but remember that it’s the feeling mind that draws people in.

Be attune to what it is that makes you attracted to different people, different information, different sources, different blogs, websites, videos. It doesn’t matter what it is. And then you’ll start to be able to fine tune how to tailor your message to create that kind of attraction.

When you get up in front of any group of people it’s a type of performance art. Look at magicians and say to yourself, “What do you magicians do that draws people in?” Now, magicians, usually, for example, they use their first trick as a wow trick and their very last trick before they leave the stage as a wow trick.

Those are their two big ones. Do you do that when you get on stage? Is your first thing a wow to drag everybody in? Then is your last thing a wow so that they walk away with this memory of that wow? You can learn from comedians, musicians, singers, everyone. Just pay attention to it.

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